The Los Angeles City Council postponed a vote Tuesday on a plan to send four police officers to attend a conference in Tucson – and lifting its ban on city-related travel to Arizona – to give officials time to find someone else to pay for the trip.
Councilmen Greig Smith and Bernard C. Parks had asked for the first exemption to the city’s Arizona boycott, which was passed as a protest against that state’s law dealing with illegal immigration. Doing so would allow the LAPD officers to attend the five-day Airborne Law Enforcement Assn. Conference, which will be hosted by the U.S. Border Patrol.
Smith asked for the delay after some of his colleagues – including Councilwoman Janice Hahn – voiced opposition to the exemption. A delay would give the LAPD time to see if the nonprofit Los Angeles Police Foundation would be willing to foot the bill, he said.
“Janice Hahn was going to make a big stink,” said Smith, who represents part of the west San Fernando Valley. “I was willing to fight it out, but then the department said it was going to try to work this out.”
Smith was the lone opponent of the boycott, which was enacted last month as a response to passage of the Arizona law requiring police in the state to determine the citizenship status of people they stop for other reasons and suspect are in the country illegally. In response, the council imposed a boycott that bars travel to Arizona on city business and the award of new contracts to Arizona companies — unless doing so would harm the city’s interests.
Hahn, one of the original proponents of the boycott, said sending the LAPD officers to Tucson -– even at another group’s expense — flies in the face of the council’s stance.
“It’s not taxpayer money, but it’s somebody’s,” said Hahn, whose district stretches from Watts to San Pedro. “And I think it undermines the spirit of what the council did.”
After reviewing Smith’s request, Councilman Richard Alarcon said he agreed with the plan to send the officers. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dropped hints that he was unlikely to oppose the exemption.
“What I’ve said to Councilman Smith is, that issue, the issue of police officers going to Arizona, was decided a long time ago,” the mayor said.
– David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall